Tuesday, September 8

Construction review: “Shinsengumi Wolves of Mibu 1864” from MJ Miniatures/ DG Art Work

An all new samurai bust from the team of MJ Miniatures/ DG Art Work caught our eye recently. It featured the armed militia “The Wolves of Maibu” man in a dynamic pose and some very fine sculpting, so we thought it was worth our time to build him up in a review, and look a little into where these men got their name from….

Shinsengumi, Wolves of Mibu 1864
From DG Artwork
Code: #DG12-003
Scale: 1/12 Scale
Resin parts: 10
Sculpted by: Dae Hyeong, Kim (DG Art Work)
Box-art painted by Man-Jin, KIM (MJ Miniatures)
You can get this bust from MJ Miniature’s Distributors worldwide.

A little on the subject before we get waist deep in resin.. ( like the bust – geddit?) 
The Shinsengumi (新選組 or 新撰組) can be translated from the Japanese to be literally “the new squad".) They were a militia or police force organized by the (military government) during Japan's Bakumatsu period (late shogun) in 1864. They were active until 1869.

Founded to protect the Shogunate representatives in Kyoto at a time when a controversial imperial edict to exclude foreign trade from Japan had been made and the Choshu clan had been forced from the imperial court. The men were drawn from the sword schools of Edo.

 Some modern day mock ups of their uniforms
 Although the Shinsengumi are lauded as brave and determined heroes in popular culture, they have been described by historians as a "ruthless murder squad". It seems that your opinion of these men – called “The Wolves of Mibi” lies in where your sympathies of Japanese history lie. That does not mean that they weren’t a great subject for a sculptor and that is what we have here.
Sculpted by Dae Hyeong, Kim (DG Art Work) this bust in 1/12th scale comes in a familiar sized cardboard sturdy box. Lovely artwork on the cover is supplied by Man-Jin, KIM (from MJ Miniatures) and the whole package is attractive whilst being strong in the post. Ours arrived very safely with a lot of bubble wrap to protect it and small zip-loc bags to hold the smaller bits together. Let’s have a look at the resin and the parts before we put him together.

You can’t almost see them here wrapped up safely in the bubble wrap…
What's in the box... 
There are twelve parts in this grey resin bust. The resin itself was not too smelly, it has no surface bumps that we could see and the seams. There are some seams on the sides of the figure’s sleeves which now after seeing the box art I know to put them together. You could actually leave these on but they should (in truth) be taken off as per the boxart. There are also two large resin stub scars on each of the shoulders, these can also be removed with some careful knife work.

 ..with a ruler to show approximate size

The head shows a young and almost anamie style samurai warrior. This works only if he is young – otherwise the fellow would have a shaved head on top. The hair is tousled under and over his head band thoughtfully. The top know on his head looks like greasy but pretty thick hair. You could tone it down if you wanted to with some steel wool. I like it how it is to tell you the truth.
The whole head looks very strong with a thick neck and jaw. Very heroic styling which suits the piece.
The torso is very ornate and straight away you see the flowing nature of these functional but very beautiful garb of the Shinsengumi. The overcoat and under layers are loosely flowing over each other and the sash around the waist is tied in a nice knot while the braided rope around his neck is subtle but an easy detail to pick out.
The same goes of the straps of the swords on the back, the folds of cloth on the arms and back are lovely to pick out as well. Apart from the bits I have mentioned already that need to be cleaned up this is a lovely part of the sculpt.
The base is joined securely by a nice little textured stand/plinth which gives a nice aspect to the figure instead of a stick. The writing in Japanese is “makoto” which means either “sincere”, or “with heart.” It’s one of those words which doesn’t translate into English but that is what it means.
The arms are joined at the elbow by a pair of wrapped and guarded forearms and fingers. The right arm cradling a Katana with a resin stub attached to it that takes just a careful minute to remove. The hands themselves are very nice and we can see the separate fingers clearly in the smallest detail.
You can see more clearly underneath these hands the structure of the fingers and wrinkles in the cloth under the wrists. It is a shame not much of this is seen because it’s lovely detail. The left hand cradles the other, smaller sword the man carries.
You can see next these three parts. The sword blades in their scabbards, with notched that are engineered to fit correctly into the sockets neatly and firmly and the blade hilt which is ornate and detailed. Again great for painting as the raised details can be easily picked out. The large triangle twisted resin is the headband that flows from the man’s head. 
Let’s put him together then!

This bust was very easy to assemble as all of the engineering has been done for you. The swords all slip straight into their holes and the head sits neatly in the notch sculpted for it. TO be hones the longest bit of construction was the Katana. It had bent like a wavy “M” shape in transit. Some quick hot water and pressing together with two steel rulers for about a minute solved that mini dilemma. 
So we are left with a very cool looking – certainly stylized “Wolf of Mibu” that it looks like a pleasure to paint. I have included some painted box art pictures from MKJ on the bottom of this review to show you how a real samurai of the paintbrush does his best work.
The sculpting is very nice and the engineering is first class. The subject is evocative (slightly westernized) but very nicely all put together. I like this sculpt a lot – and I gave it to my mate who translated the Japanese symbol on the plinth – he liked it even more!

Yes this bust was made with makoto” 

Adam Norenberg